San Francisco, 8 Aug (ZXS) -- The growth rate of homeless people in the United States has reached a record high

China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

A block walk from the square in front of San Francisco City Hall is the notoriously dirty and messy district of Tiandelon. Out-of-town visitors mostly walk through at a brisk pace to avoid making eye contact with homeless people gathered on the side of the road. However, dealing with these people who have no fixed place to live is a daily life for Desiri Vaesso.

On 8 August, Vaesso, the project manager of the charity Salvation Army, and several colleagues and volunteers pushed small carts to distribute free food and clothing in several perennially populated neighbourhoods of Tendlon district. Vaesso told China News Agency that she has been working to help the homeless for a decade, and the number of people in this group has been increasing, especially this year.

On August 8, local time, staff and volunteers of the charity The Salvation Army distributed food and clothing on the streets of the Tiandelon district of San Francisco, USA. Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

A recent Wall Street Journal summary of data from more than 300 organizations found that the number of homeless people in the United States has increased by 11% from last year, the largest increase since officials began tracking the data in 2007. Homelessness is particularly large in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where mayors have declared a state of emergency.

A survey of homeless people released by the University of California, San Francisco, released in June, found that 6 percent of respondents reported chronic illness, 60 percent said they had experienced serious mental health problems, 82 percent reported drug use, and 65 percent said they had alcohol problems. In addition, nearly 62 percent said they had been violently beaten and 72 percent said they had been sexually assaulted.

On August 8, local time, homeless people passed through the streets of the Tendlon district of San Francisco, USA. Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

Jeffrey, who lives on the streets of Tindron District, is a victim of drugs. More than 10 years ago, he lost his job as a chef due to drug addiction and was swept away by his family. Pointing to a dilapidated tent, he said, "I really don't like people saying I'm homeless, this is my home." ”

Jeffrey also lived in a government-provided makeshift shelter but returned to the streets in less than a week. He said he didn't want the same group of strangers to live in "crowded, chaotic buildings" where "the streets are safer and freer."

On August 8, local time, a homeless person stayed near the Federal Building in San Francisco, USA. Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

Barbara DiPietro, senior policy director at the American Council on Health Care for the Homeless, said perhaps a temporary shelter is better than nothing, but it doesn't solve the underlying problem. In her view, settlements are often restrictive and in some cases even unsafe. "It's like you're seriously injured and someone else gives you a band-aid." "The shelter is not a home," she said. ”

Still, owning a home in California, where prices are high, won't be easy. According to data released Aug. 8 by the California Association of Realtors, the state's Housing Affordability Index hit a 11-year low in the second quarter of 2023, with only 16 percent of people able to afford to buy a mid-priced existing single-family home in California, down 16 percent from the first quarter. In the first quarter of 3, it was 2012 percent.

According to Vaeso, the main reason for the increase in homelessness is the sharp increase in the cost of housing. The Salvation Army Railton Building in Tiandelon District said on its website that the building has 110 units of transitional and permanent housing for homeless people and that "the biggest need right now is housing assistance."

On August 8, local time, homeless people gathered near the Federal Building in San Francisco, USA. Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

In addition to charities, all levels of government in the United States are also looking for ways to accommodate the homeless. Over the past four fiscal years, California has spent a record $4 billion on tackling homelessness. In December 170, the Biden administration unveiled a homeless response plan, saying it would prioritize increasing housing supply, with the goal of reducing the number of homeless people by 2022% by 12. But critics are pessimistic about a range of government plans, and some of the temporary shelter projects are fiercely opposed by nearby residents.

Because San Francisco's security environment is getting worse, Ms. Liu, a Chinese, moved to Milbrae in San Mateo County two years ago. Recently, however, she has been troubled again. Ms. Liu told China News Agency that San Mateo County plans to buy a hotel in Milbrae to house 100 single male homeless people. In her view, these people are the unstable factor. Ms. Liu said, "Homelessness is a problem that goes hand in hand, leaving nowhere to escape. She called on local Chinese on social platforms to unite against the county's plan.

On August 8, local time, homeless people passed near San Francisco City Hall. Photo by China News Agency reporter Liu Guanguan

US media analysis pointed out that in addition to the rising cost of housing, the gradual end of the assistance policy during the new crown epidemic is also the reason for the further deterioration of the homeless problem. In some areas, the influx of illegal immigrants has also increased homelessness. But the Destination: Home project, which aims to tackle homelessness in California's Silicon Valley, argues that while homelessness is caused by multiple factors and varies from person to person, deeper research found that the root cause of the problem is "deep-rooted and long-standing social inequality."

Standing next to his humble "home" on the street, Jeffrey, 56, said his immediate plan was to kick his addiction as soon as possible. "My dream is to have a real home first, and then find everything else that belongs to me." Jeffrey shrugged and said, "But no matter how hard I try, this simple dream can't come true." (End)